Artful hands on the wall

Group effort between students, staff and parents gives Ozaukee Elementary a mural to remember

A SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION is helping students and staff members at Ozaukee Elementary School in Fredonia and local parents give the first-floor hallway in their building a bright now look. A colorful mural that will feature an eye-catching tree as a centerpiece is being created through a group painting effort. Shown above (from front to back) are Lucas Michael, Bianca Marini, Dylan Russell, Tanner Russell, Katelyn Michael, Giada Morano and teacher Mandy Culver. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee Elementary School in Fredonia is adding a little color to its first-floor hallway after students, teachers and parents rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty last Saturday.

The group arrived to help paint a mural.  

“Having a mural in our school has been in the talks for a long time,” said Mandy Culver, the school’s art teacher. “We’ve been looking at a big, white wall for some time now, but it is worth the wait.”

The collaborative effort will create a 30-by-9-foot mural of a tree near the school’s main entrance. 

Culver and district learning coach Lori Marini were inspired to organize the project when they came across a poem by Ilan Shamir called “Advice from a Tree.” They found the poem to be relatable from their experience working with youngsters.

“It just spoke to us,” Culver said. “It talked exactly the way we would talk to students and the advice we would want to give them, like standing tall and proud.”  

Culver said she wants to have a plaque or piece of artwork displayed next to the mural with the poem.

During the project, about 20 students and parents helped paint the background shapes as the first step. Culver said she will finish the mural herself outside of class, which should take one week.

Culver said the students are proud to leave their mark on the school.

“They were so excited, they were telling their friends on Monday that they were making history,” she said.

The wall was previously used for another student art project, painted tiles created in the early 1990s. Last summer, custodians removed the tiles because they were falling apart. 

“The tiles were beautiful at one time, but now they were cracking, chipping and aging. A lot of people wanted to take them down,” Culver said, noting some of the parents who helped paint the mural were the tile artists.  

“It’s really awesome to think that two generations of parents and their kids could be involved in this process. I heard some parents telling their kids that when they’re older they can come back to visit the school to appreciate the mark they left.”

Culver said she is looking to add more flare to the school. She recently organized an art club for fourth and fifth-graders that meets every other Thursday.

“We’re always working to add a little beauty to our hallways,” she said. “We focus on community and working together. Our goal is to include a little bit of color and happiness in the school.

“We want the kids to make something special and something we can remember them by, so they can come back and be proud of their work.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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